I returned to the U.S. from Kenya this holiday season with a very heavy burden on my heart: we were critically short on funding for our program here in Kuria. As I stepped off the plane at SFO, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of the hopes and dreams of 3,000 brave souls, the farmers and families of Kuria, bearing down on me. They have innocently placed their trust in Nuru to provide the methods and means to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. I longed to share their optimism as I stepped off that plane, however, the “reality” of a nation in financial turmoil hit me the moment I arrived. Every news program, newspaper and magazine was filled with stories about how Christmas spending was going to be miserable this year, how individuals were giving less to charities and people were losing their homes due to the credit crisis.
I began to despair a bit. “How in the world am I going to do this? 500 families in Kuria are counting us to loan them the farm inputs needed to grow their crop of maize in the spring. A bumper maize crop is the first step in lifting themselves out of extreme poverty. I need to raise a lot of money in the coming weeks or else this program will fail and the people may starve.” The reason we were in this funding crisis was because we had planned to provide the farm inputs for 200 farmers, but when 500 desperate farmers signed up to join Nuru, I couldn’t turn them away. Had I made a mistake? As I now stood on the curb at the airport waiting for my buddy Grayson to pick me up, I just shook my head in silence. The question again echoed in my head, “How in the world…”
But over the next two weeks, something special occurred… I got over my pre-conceived notions of self-importance, and I got my “self” out of the way. I met with potential donors and the entire Nuru team wrote letters to their friends and families asking them to invest in the future of these famers here in Kuria. And we made it! I shook my head in amazement as I reflected on your contributions to bring hope to our friends here in Kuria – you donated over $125,000! To the friends of Nuru around the world – thank you. Thank you for hearing the voice of the voiceless. For answering the call to action to end the senseless suffering and sadness of those who taught me what hope is.
Because of your incredible selflessness, we actually exceeded our funding goal that I came home to fill. We are now able to provide the farmers our farm loan program that will increase crop yields 400% to 500% this next season – enabling them to be sure of where the next meal for their family will come from every day next season. Your gift will help bring clean, accessible water to hundreds of families…enabling those young girls to envision a life of hope and not just of questionable survival.
2008 brought many things to my life, but one of the most rewarding was the restoration of childlike faith and hope – and it was you who helped restore that for me. You restored my hope in the ability for us to selflessly love one another regardless of differences in country, culture, or politics. I am so hopeful now going into this New Year. Thank you for teaching me…for teaching me to hope again. God bless you all. Here’s to 2009.